Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sharps Rifle

Not as popular as Springfield Model Rifle, the Sharps Rifle was still one of the finest rifles ever built. Designed in 1848 and entered service in 1850, it held only one shot. It used a falling block action which used a metal breach lock that slides up and down in grooves cut into the breach which is controlled by a lever. This marked the beginning of a new trend in the field of rifles and the men who used them. The old-way of loading and firing a rifle was to load it from the muzzle; this weapon however could be loaded at the breach.This made for much faster loading and firing times. This also allowed a soldier to lie down or take cover while reloading. Typically a Sharps Rifle could fire between 8 and 10 shots per minute depending on soldier skill. Nearly 100,000 of them were built between 1850 and 1881 when it was finally retired from service. The carbine version was very popular with the cavalry of both the Union and Confederate armies and was issued in much larger numbers than the full-length rifle.

Calvary Sabers

For centuries the weapon considered most essential to cavalry had been the saber. Oddly enough, the US Army rarely saw fit to emphasize the training of its mounted men enough to make them sufficiently proficient with the saber to be deadly swordsmen in battle. There were saber exercises in the dragoon and mounted riflemen regiments, but these were hardly on a level with the training European cavalrymen experienced. All the mounted units of the US Army, from the Continental Dragoons to the modern cavalry, were armed with one type of saber or another. That is until the saber was finally discontinued as a cavalry weapon in 1934. The 1840 saber had the nickname, "Old Wristbreaker," because it was fairly easy for the soldier to break his wrist in combat if he held the saber wrong. The proper way to hold the saber was inverted and away from your body. Normally sabers were not sharpened because they were intended to be used for thrusting, not slashing. Used exclusively in close combat from horseback, the saber knot would be used as a strap and wrapped around the wrist to prevent the saber from being lost should it be dropped in battle.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Civil War Weaponry

With so many weapons evolving and being produced during the Civil War. We thought we'd share some insights on a few of them.

LeMat Revolver
One of the most well know revolvers of the Civil War is the Le Mat Revolver. A deadly idea for a weapon, it had two barrels of varying size. The top barrel could fire .42 caliber balls while the bottom could fire a 20 gauge shot shell. The creator, a French doctor living in New Orleans, Jean Alexandre LeMat, moved back to France to create more revolvers for the Confederacy. The French-made revolvers, however, proved unreliable and difficult to manufacture. It was unwieldy, with the two firing mechanisms making it unusually weighty for a handgun. Although the added weight of the cylinder made it rear-heavy, which likely helped aiming. An unusual pistol design, the LeMat saw action with the Confederate Army and Navy, and was theoretically the most lethal handgun of the American Civil War.